Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Veronica Henry - Christmas at the Crescent (A Noella)

**Review by Stacey

Behind the gorgeous Georgian sweep of Pelham Crescent, Bath, everyone's getting ready for Christmas...

At Number 14, Josie Ballard is up to her ears in brandy, raisins and cherries as she battles to make forty Christmas puddings to sell at Bath Christmas Market. Ever since Giles walked out the day their baby was born, Josie has had to work twice as hard to make ends meet. Sacrificing a career as a chef, her famous steamed puddings keep her and her gorgeous baby boy Titus afloat. Almost. So when, in the middle of Stir Up Sunday, a new neighbour in the Crescent complains about the noise that Titus is making, Josie gives him a basinful...

Giles, meanwhile, is finding life in the fast lane with his uber-glamorous new girlfriend Rebecca rather draining. With one party blurring into another, he's now wondering if he hasn't made a terrible mistake in abandoning Josie and his child. Isn't it time he grew up, his mother asks, and Giles is starting to agree. So when he discovers Josie has a handsome new neighbour, Giles decides it's time to step up to his parental duties...

Christmas just got complicated.

If you've read my previous reviews of Christmas reads you will know I am completely sucked in by a beautiful cover and this one is snow different! Add to that the fact the blurb mentions food, and I'm right there!

So Christmas at the Crescent introduces us to Josie who has just set up a new business in order to provide for her son Titus, after his father (Giles) left them stranded in the hospital when he was born and she sacrificed her career to stay home with him. As any 10 month old baby, Titus is rather noisy and her new neighbour from upstairs finds it rather annoying, but Josie isn't having any of it...

Nevertheless, Josie and her neighbour strike up a friendship which she starts to think might lead to a budding romance - but boy was she mistaken. Meanwhile, Giles takes note of the new neighbour and decides to step up his fatherly duties. An unfortunate accident leaves Josie unable to care for herself or Titus so Giles really steps up and realises what an idiot he has been. Can taking charge of their son bring them back together or has their fate already been sealed?...

"The flakes drifted down dreamily at first, as soft as goose-feathers, whirling around in the gelid winter air until they kissed the ground."

I loved reading this throughout, it was so descriptive and I actually wanted to dive into the book and eat everything Josie made. It was full of snow (which I always love) and it did actually concentrate on the Christmas period - Veronica made Bath at Christmas sound amazing and also made me want to visit! I will probably read this again next year to get me in the spirit! A wonderfully short read for a cosy day indoors.

You can keep in touch with Veronica and news about her books on her website or Twitter.

Get your copy of Christmas at the Crescent here (UK) or here (US).

I purchased this book myself and wasn't asked to write this review. All thoughts & opinions are honest & my own.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Scott Kaelen - From Grains To Galaxies

**Review by Susan

From Grains To Galaxies is less a collection of stories and poems and more a journey – an exploration of wonder and dread, beauty and terror. It’s a trek through the scenes of uncountable millennia, from sandy dreamscapes to apocalyptic nightmares, from Earth’s fiery beginning to it’s equally infernal end, from gleaming future vistas to the bleak darkness at the cusp of the universe. It traverses life’s moments from birth until death, exposing a plethora of emotions and experiences between and beyond, in all their naked truths. It grabs the genres of science fiction, horror, contemporary and speculative fiction, epic and comic fantasy and slipstream by the proverbial secrets, casts them into the forge, and melts them at high temperatures.
Are your bags packed? Have you said your goodbyes? Then it’s time to start this journey. All that’s left is to open the forge and reach for what’s inside… 

This is the first of Scott's books I've managed to read and honestly didn't know what to expect. A variety of short stories and poems that blew my mind and took me into my 'Bookland'.  
The stories were all mind blowing and the poems more so. And as far as topics went, there is something for everyone and every religion.  
Scott's words were incredible and one particular poem that touched me:

Excerpt from the poem -
"The Wrong Side"
Will we end this tale together
On the bright side of the moon,
And will we find a love forever
On the flip side of this tune...

Lots amongst this book for everyone from a variety of genres and well worth a read.  Wishing Scott every success with his books.

You can keep up with Scott and news about his books on his websiteFacebook and Twitter.

Get your copy of From Grains To Galaxies here (UK) or here (US).

I was sent a copy of this book to review. All thoughts & opinions are honest & my own.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Joyce and Jim Lavene - Emilie's Christmas Love

*Contains adult themes
**Review by Stacey

It’s Christmas time in Ferrier’s Mountain, North Carolina. 

Emilie Ferrier wants to adopt a child to fill her empty life. She’s given up any hope of meeting the ‘right’ guy. She can offer a child anything, except two parents. 

Nick Garrett owns the mechanic shop that works on Emilie’s cars. He’s fresh out of the military, caring for his niece and nephew following his sister’s tragic death in a car accident. He promised her he would give her children the one thing she and Nick didn’t have: two parents. 

Nick doesn’t know that Emilie is the rich woman who wants to adopt his niece and nephew. She invites them to her house for the holidays when she finds out they need a place to stay. Her plan is to convince Nick that she can be a great single mother. 

Neither of them plans to fall in love. 

Will a Christmas miracle make them a family?

I've mentioned before that I'm a sucker for a Christmas book, especially a romance one. I loved the snowy cover of this book too which attracted me to it! 

Emilie lives in Ferrier's Mountain with her Aunt Joda (who is a little eccentric) and is in the process of wanting to adopt a little girl. This stems from the fact that she had polio as a child which made her infertile and also rendered her with a disability which she feels makes her unattractive to the opposite sex. Nick is the local mechanic who works on Emilie's cars and rescues her after she breaks down one evening. Right before Christmas, Nick's house is in need of immediate repair and he has to move out with both the children he is now caring for - Emilie invites them to stay with her, but she has an ulterior motive...

"There should be a contract made between children and their mothers that the child had to grow up before the mother died. Every child deserved to have their mother."

I found the story quite slow to begin with and it wasn't until around two-thirds of the way in that I started to get into it more as it kind of dragged on and it was only then that it really started to become about Christmas. You can feel the sexual tension between Emilie & Nick right from the beginning and all the way I was egging them on to just get on with it as it felt like they were never going to! When they eventually did though, it was sensually written and you could feel the passion between them. The ending was as I expected it to be, though something happened before it which I didn't see coming but it did put a dampener on Emilie's plans which were going well up until then. Can a near disaster bring a Christmas miracle for both Emilie & Nick? Well you will have to read to find out... An easy read for a cold winter day.

You can keep in touch with Joyce &Jim and news about their books on their websiteFacebook or Twitter.

Get your copy of Emilie's Christmas Love here (UK) or here (US).

I purchased this book myself and wasn't asked to write this review. All thoughts & opinions are honest & my own.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Laura Dunaway - Delivered (A Christmas Novella)

**Review by Susan

Pregnant and widowed, Andi Porter is still reeling from the loss of her husband. When she finds herself in labor and stranded in a snowstorm, it seems like her timing couldn't be worse.

Doctor Jase Rollins is a well respected doctor who has a knack for being right where he needs to be. When his right place collides with Andi's wrong time, an unlikely and unexpected connection is made that neither can ignore.

This Christmas may deliver the best gift of all … a second chance for the woman who lost it all and the man who wants to give her everything.

Well what a fantastic Christmas novella. The heartache of newly widowed Andi is lead in to the arms of a rather perfect man - Jase. With a new baby, a dead husband and no family around her, her new connection with Dr Rollins starts. Desperate for the pair to allow themselves happiness and patience we see them over the festive period.  

Will Andi be able to let Jase in after all the heartache she's been through? Will she get the unexpected Christmas present or will the emotions she's going through be too much?!  
One of the best Christmas novellas I've had the pleasure of reading. Can't wait to read more of Laura Dunaways books! 

A five star festive read!  

You can keep up with Laura and news about her books on her websiteFacebook or Twitter.

Get your copy of Delivered here (UK) or here (US).

I was sent a copy of this book to review. All thoughts & opinions are honest & my own.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

J A Heron - Alias

*Contains adult themes
**Review by Susan

We first meet this feisty character in my debut novel 'Belleza', you don't have to read it first, but it might gain you some perspective on her personality. There are also some events that happen in the same timeline. 
Trixie is a call girl/escort, working in London and Las Vegas, she has had a rough ride in life. She has been abused, and abandoned by those who are meant to love her. 
She has always dealt with life by herself, and one of her 'clients' wants to help her move away from the way of life she has always known. Mr Orange (not his real name) is an Art Dealer, mega wealthy, and totally drool worthy. He cares about her a great deal. 
Can she give Mr Orange a chance, or will she remain in the lifestyle she is accustomed to? Can someone who has never loved, or felt love, learn the art of Love? 
*** Please be aware the content of this book contains strong, and graphic scenes. Trixie also swears, a lot. NOT suitable for persons under the age of 18 ***

Well where do I start?  We meet Trixie in J A Herons first book (Belleza) although only briefly...she is the friend of Mya who seen her through some hard times and introduced her to the escorting business - Belleza.  Well she comes into her own in this book.  
Trixie is a feisty, independent and very strong woman.  She is under no illusion of what she does and whilst keeps her secret life from her aunt, she is happy with the life she leads.  

We see her love for dancing (which she does in Las Vegas) along side her escorting. She has dreams of her future and her savings pot is going towards her dreams regarding her dancing. 

There is a darker side to Trixie. She had a very sad childhood and between awful parents and a cousin who abused her she has very clear ideas on sex. She knows she "screws" men for money and expects nothing else from the clients she is with.  

But that is about to change when one of her long standing clients shows her something she is alien to. Affection and love. But is Mr X hiding something that could destroy the pair and Trixie's trust and affections before they have become apparent? A run in with a old client and someone from Mya's past would be the true test for the pair. When Trixie is in need of recooperation Mr X takes her in and adores her. But Trixie is certain she needs to return to what she knows....because it's all she feels certain about. It's easier than dealing with the feelings she has.  

Will Trixie realise what she truly wants? When she finally makes her choice more pain is to come her way. And through it all, she can only think of one person.Would she ever see him again!?  Would he be her "knight in shining armour"? 

To say I connected with this story is an understatement....from the amazing highs to the year inducing lows...we truly travel Trixie's journey. Wanting nothing for her to let down her understandably high walls from being so hurt in her young life and beyond.  
This awe inspiring read was difficult in parts, and did have violence and graphic scenes but it made me respect Trixie more. For her dreams she was aspiring to and her inspirational attitude and strength.  

I could actually rave about this book but I'm going to stop now....
A truly worthy five star emotional roller coaster read.  It actually shook me! 

You can keep in touch with J A and news about her books on FacebookTwitter or Goodreads.

Get your copy of Alias here (UK) or here (US). Add to your  Goodreads TBR here.


I was sent this book free of charge to review. All thoughts and opinions are honest & my own.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Jenny Oliver - The Parisian Christmas Bake Off

**Review by Stacey

Welcome to the most celebrated patisserie competition in Paris – ready, steady, bake!

Watching snowflakes settle on the Eiffel Tower, Rachel Smithson’s cosy English village feels very far way – as, thankfully, does her commitment-phobic ex, probably already kissing someone else under the mistletoe. But Rachel hasn’t come to Paris to mope she’s come to bake. Hard.

Because the search for Paris’s next patisserie apprentice is about to begin! And super-chef judge Henri Salernes is an infamously tough cookie. But Rachel isn’t about to let her confidence (or pastry) crumble. She’s got one week, mounds of melt-in-the-mouth macaroons and towers of perfect profiteroles to prove that she really is a star baker.

As well as clouds of flour, and wafts of chocolate and cinnamon, there’s definitely a touch of Christmas magic in the air… Rachel hasn’t come to Paris looking for a fairy-tale romance, but the city of love might gift-wrap her one anyway…

Not even a dusting of icing sugar could make The Parisian Christmas Bake Off a more perfect Christmas treat!

Throughout December I have to read Christmas books, as it really gets me in the mood and I love reading about other people's Christmases (even if they are fictional!). The cover for this book drew me in straight away as it is really Christmassy, and the fact it involved a beautiful setting, Christmas, and food (some of my favourite things)!

The main character is Rachel who is in a dead end relationship with a bit of a loser to be honest. She also hates Christmas as she lost a loved one at Christmas so she doesn't like to celebrate it - so her close knit village decided to club together and send her to Paris for a Bake Off competition with top chef Henri Salernes. She has her doubts but then she discovers that she has no choice but to go and I don't think she realises what she's let herself in for! Rachel doesn't go to Paris looking for love - her mind is solely on getting through the competition then returning home, but will the city of love bring someone to her? It just might.

The other contestants who she is competing against are a mixed bag and obviously all out to win, but a couple of them take it a bit more seriously than the others. The food descriptions throughout the competition had my mouth watering SO much that I might even have to attempt my own versions of some of the bakes! The whole book was really descriptive and I could just imagine that I was Rachel, in Paris; it was beautiful.

Part of the ending wasn't quite what I was expecting but I loved it nonetheless. Rachel returns home with a bright future ahead of her and the book finishes in a great place. It is really a great Christmas must-read and I will probably have to read it again next year!

You can keep up with Jenny and news about her books on Twitter.

Get your copy of The Parisian Christmas Bake Off here (UK) or here (US).

I purchased this book myself and wasn't asked to write this review. All thoughts & opinions are honest & my own.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Helen Smith - Real Elves: A Christmas Story

**Review by Susan

In a department store in London, a little girl called Sophie visits Santa’s magical forest with her grandfather. As they emerge from the forest, Sophie’s grandfather reports her missing… but the little girl’s right there. Is she a ghost, a twin, an alien abductee—or is there some simpler explanation? Twenty-six-year-old amateur sleuth Emily Castles has fifteen minutes to figure out the puzzle before the police are called and Christmas is ruined.

REAL ELVES is a standalone story set in London. It first appeared in the anthology Naughty or Nice in aid of Kids Need to Read. The Emily Castles mysteries can be read in any order.

A beautifully festive short story, although at times a little "bizarre" but did enjoy. Managed to finish it in one night! With it being so short I didn't manage to learn much about the characters so it's a real push for me to go on and try the rest of Helen Smith's books!

Story flowed well and was very funny and imaginative.  

You can keep up with Helen and news about her books on her websiteFacebook or Twitter.

Get your copy of Real Elves: A Christmas Story here (UK) or here (US).

I received a copy of this book to review but all thoughts & opinions are honest & my own.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

J A Heron - Belleza

*Contains adult themes
**Review by Susan

After a tragedy, Mya found herself, disowned, alone, and facing living in a big city by herself, she was scared to death. She holds on to secrets and guilt. This is a story about the things she had to survive.
Then she meets Joe, a newly divorced business owner, trying to rebuild his life.

This can be stand alone read, but Trixie's story is coming soon in book 2.

Please be aware this novel contains graphic scenes intended for adults only.

So from the first page you are dragged into Mya Peters hell. What unfolds for her over the coming months and years would leave it's mark on Mya. Despite having little support she has got herself to a place in her life she is proud of, but has this always been the case?

She meets Joe and the pair are obviously besotted. The longing between the pair was incredible and believable however, a family event would drag up someone from Joe's past, but also reveal Mya's past too....I only hoped the pair would be strong enough to cope with this. But time passes until a night out would bring Joe and Mya face-to-face.

With what seems like a cruel turn of events Mya is faced with a situation that would frighten some. But from this her life would move forwards and she would seek some closure, but would this be with Joe by her side or have too many lies been told? Can he trust her again? Would they get the happily ever after they deserved?

Oh it had me hooked from the first page right till the last. An amazing read with an even better story line. I would highly recommend! Go get your copy of this five star read...something in this book for everyone!

You can keep in touch with J A and news about her books on FacebookTwitter or Goodreads.

Get your copy of Belleza here (UK) or here (US). Add to your Goodreads TBR here.

I was sent this book free of charge to review. All thoughts and opinions are honest & my own.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Laura Lexington - The Storm

*Contains adult themes
**Review by Stacey

Jana Cook was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth, but her fierce determination leads to a successful career in medical device sales. Toss in five-star meals, fabulous sex with her nearly perfect husband, Andrew, and a gorgeous new house … and Jana’s life is picture perfect before she hits the big 3-0. What more can a girl want? Overnight, her life begins to unravel. When Jana discovers she is pregnant, she dives from hero to zero in the eyes of Covington Company. Despite a resume most would kill for, Jana finds herself unemployed and devastated. Challenging her employer could change her life … if she wins. Does she have the strength to handle the gossip and face the likely reality of being blackballed from her industry? As Jana struggles to make the right choice, her vivacious best friend, Grace, is convinced her own heartthrob husband, Gavin, is hiding something. Despite Jana’s best efforts to convince her that she is wrong, Grace’s mental illness overpowers reality. Jana was a superstar in scrubs, but navigating first time motherhood is real work … especially in the midst of secrets, lies, and unthinkable tragedy. She makes her decision. And while Andrew promises to never let her fall, will love be enough to spark the bravery she needs to survive the storm that threatens to overcome her?

When I was offered the chance to read 'The Storm' I was immediately intrigued by the cover (a baby bump always sucks me in) and then I was even more intrigued by the blurb. The main character in this book is Jana Cook, a nearly 30 year old who is at the top of her career. She has a fantastic job as medical device rep, she has just moved back to home town with her husband Andrew, and she is back again with her best friend Grace and her husband Gavin. When she falls pregnant, Jana begins to encounter gender discrimination because of her pregnancy, and then she finds herself dismissed from her role completely. She finds herself fighting against three of her ex colleagues and decides to sue Covington Company - for Jana, this will be the beginning of one of the worst storms of her life.

Alongside this drama in Jana's life, Grace falls pregnant not long after Jana and they both welcome two baby girls into their lives. Grace though, suffers from a mental illness and also thinks her husband Gavin is hiding a huge secret from her. She makes a decision which leads to devastating consequences and heartache for everybody. Jana needs to find the strength to fight through her case, what is happening with Grace, and the throes of being a new Mum which we know is tough in itself. 

I connected with Jana right from the beginning, she was really likable - and Grace too. The story just flowed; even though there were a few things going on in the book, they slotted together well and didn't feel like I was reading different books for each situation.

Can Jana, with the help of Andrew, fight through the storm and come out shining the other side? Well, you'll have to read and find out...

"Nothing stays the same except change, Jana." Mama stroked my hair as I cried softly. "When things are good, treasure life. When things are bad, hold on ... change is on its way."


You can keep up with Laura and news about her books on Facebook.

Get your copy of The Storm here (UK) or here (US).

I was given a copy of this book to review, but all thoughts & opinions are honest & my own.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Mandy Dowson - Pack & Parcel (Moon Bound Series) Christmas Novella

*This book contains adult themes
**Review by Susan

Part of the Amazon Best Selling series, Moon Bound.
**This book is not suitable for anyone under the age of 18. It contains adult situations and scenes of erotica and mild horror.

Leesh is a female on the run. She's taken all she can take from her abusive mate, and so, gathering up her five year old little boy, Jase, she flees her territory, her pack and her family, but with danger lurking around every corner, and old injuries leaving her vulnerable to attack from any and every quarter, she must rely on the Master of the Hunt, from the Tall Grass pack to keep her safe.
Wallace is ruggedly handsome despite his many scars, but Leesh pushes him away even as she wishes she could let him hold her close.
Is she too far gone in fear and self-hatred to return his blossoming feelings?

With an angry mate on her tail, Wallace must do all he can to save the woman he's fallen in love with, and protect the son he wishes to call his own.
But Christmas is a time for miracles, right?

In this novella we meet Leesh, who is on the run with her young cub, she has been very poorly treated and in her escape from danger meets Wallace, her saviour in her hour of need. Despite the females concerns about returning to a pack and the danger she would put them in, she knows her health and her son's depends on it.

Leesh and Wallace are a similar pair and both have their damage from the past but can they help one another through what lies ahead? Will Leesh ever be able to let someone in despite her past?

"...being different, being changed, doesn't mean your any less perfect. It doesn't mean you're damaged goods. It simply means you've been honed into another form of perfection......Your perfect..."

It's another brilliant story from Mandy Dowson and made my heart ache with sadness but equally leap with joy to know that all was not lost for Leesh and her son. Her Christmas present would be one of rediscovery and confidence she lost many years ago.
A magical Christmas novella that had me hooked from the start. Another must read this Christmas.

You can keep in touch with Mandy and news about her books on her Facebook or Twitter

Get your copy of Pack & Parcel here (UK) or here (US).
I was sent a copy of this book to review, but all thoughts & opinions are honest & my own.